It is the smell of a flavorful brew. It is an infectious work ethic, that spreads across the turned-into-a-kitchen office of International Bridges to Justice. Beyond doubt, it is the mélange of cultures brought to the table by interns from around the world. The menu? JusticeMakers 2012 HIV/AIDS Global Competition.
To begin with, JusticeMakers is a community. A community of individuals seeking to counter misconduct within their local criminal justice system. The malice they oppose occurs in the absence of a qualified attorney; the use of torture as an investigative tool; or the denial of access to a fair trial. Specifically, this year’s edition of the JusticeMakers competition zooms in on those living with HIV/AIDS. It focuses on detainees oppressed by the dual burden of being denied their rights—detainees remain humans and humans have rights—and the stigma and marginalization that often come with HIV/AIDS.
Yet, JusticeMakers is also a competition. And the competitive element is this: International Bridges to Justice, with the help of Levi Strauss Foundation, awards a fellowship of $5000 in seed funding. There are 12 such fellowships, and not only does one win a monetary prize to implement a project, fellows also win the support of IBJ. This support is geared towards their needs and helps them face the challenges of on-the-ground implementation of their project.
But for all of this to happen, work needs to be done. “At this point, we are reaching out to as many potential JusticeMakers as we can,” explains Kate, who is in charge of marketing the initiative. “We operate on multiple levels simultaneously, such as facebook, twitter, and our JusticeMakers website. Anyone can download the JusticeMakers facebook cover photo, post our digital postcards, or use a sample tweet to spread the word. As we rely on local networks, our aim is to enable anyone who wants to help promote.”
Daniel, who administers the applications once they have been received, is visibly busy scanning and reading. “If you want to recruit excellent JusticeMakers fellows, quality control is a vital concern. At this stage, however, we are keeping track of all incoming applications. And we are eager to welcome some more!”